Monday night on MSNBC a reporter spoke with the parents of a six-year-old who was slain at the school in Newtown, Conn., and it was, as you can only imagine, a wrenching moment in time. But I was impressed with the decency of the questioner and the thoughtful responses of the parents, who, in the company of the other parents were required to endure the tragedy, and who now offer this question: “What do you think is now worth doing?” Reflecting the consensus of their friends, the Millers urged Americans to keep the conversation about the mass shooting going, ostensibly in order to somehow arrive at means to preclude future repeats in other places, in other times.
I completely agree with that, of course, and fervently hope that this time real action will be taken, which will only occur if the heat of the moment will not be allowed to cool. Back on July 31st of last year I wrote about this (see “Guns and the easy kill”) and find that my sentiments remain the same now, and further, that the obstinacy of the gun lobby has also stayed on exactly the same page. The pitch from the NRA and Gun Owners of American is one of consistent support for people who own guns, despite fact that their clients are really gun manufacturers.
(Madness, along with the inexplicable reverence for the 2nd Amendment, an 18th Century nugget that desperately needs to be looked at in the context of the 21st.)
And here’s a real irony: The weapon of choice of the killers of the innocent, the “Bushmaster,” a gun that only should be in the hands of genuine combatants, is actually constructed — according to Yahoo! news — in one of my home towns, a place called Ilion, New York. More irony: I had a summer job there right after I graduated from high school. Remington Arms, in those days, was equipping hunters with weapons to rid the countryside of errant deer and the like. Better…if you didn’t ask the deer.
Historically, however, the Arms fell on some hard times in the decades that followed, but with some credit going to new and greater demand for the Bushmaster, the coffers are filling up once again. The 1,000-odd employees are grateful.
Anyhow, the conversation, now with a life of its own, does go on. For the first time in a couple of generations we’re beginning to address the issue — or more accurately, if you don’t live in Ilion, the problem — at a much higher volume. Politicians on both sides of the fence are being required, albeit reluctantly, to see what can be done to the satisfaction of the many, and it is pretty crazy. Heat-packing teachers! Assault weapons banned to the trash bin! New and angry recognition of the nut cases! Legislative ploys! But hopefully, above it all, the quieter voices of reason.
We really should see all of it as an opportunity that’s rarely in front of us. It’s a chance for many, many voices to be heard, to advance new ideas in the place of the tired rhetoric of the people in power, the people who bend in the direction of money. It’s a chance to clean up the image of Americans seen as a people who currently have a fondness for violence in any number of ways to be newly recognized as admirably civil; resolute, to be sure, but civil in a manner that engenders imitators, not wonder and the shaking of heads. You’d like to think that we’re better than Arizona swagger with a 9 mm on our hip.